Phase the Third: The Rally
22. CHAPTER XXII
They came downstairs yawning next morning; but skimming
and milking were proceeded with as usual, and they went
indoors to breakfast. Dairyman Crick was discovered
stamping about the house. He had received a letter, in
which a customer had complained that the butter had a
"And begad, so 't have!" said the dairyman, who held in
his left hand a wooden slice on which a lump of butter
was stuck. "Yes--taste for yourself!"
Several of them gathered round him; and Mr Clare
tasted, Tess tasted, also the other indoor milkmaids,
one or two of the milking-men, and last of all Mrs
Crick, who came out from the waiting breakfast-table.
There certainly was a twang.
The dairyman, who had thrown himself into abstraction
to better realize the taste, and so divine the
particular species of noxious weed to which it
appertained, suddenly exclaimed--
"'Tis garlic! and I thought there wasn't a blade left
in that mead!"
Then all the old hands remembered that a certain dry
mead, into which a few of the cows had been admitted of
late, had, in years gone by, spoilt the butter in the
same way. The dairyman had not recognized the taste at
that time, and thought the butter bewitched.
"We must overhaul that mead," he resumed; "this mustn't
All having armed themselves with old pointed knives
they went out together. As the inimical plant could
only be present in very microscopic dimensions to have
escaped ordinary observation, to find it seemed rather
a hopeless attempt in the stretch of rich grass before
them. However, they formed themselves into line, all
assisting, owing to the importance of the search; the
dairyman at the upper end with Mr Clare, who had
volunteered to help; then Tess, Marian, Izz Huett, and
Retty; then Bill Lewell, Jonathan, and the married
dairywomen--Beck Knibbs, with her wooly black hair and
rolling eyes; and flaxen Frances, consumptive from the
winter damps of the water-meads--who lived in their